Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Post 474 - Brilliant Butterflies of 2017

Hey everyone, sorry it's been a little while between posts. School work has been taking up a lot of time again! I hope this post makes up for not posting for a while.

Duke of Burgundy

A little while back I was in touch with Butterfly Conservation on twitter. I'd sent a few pics of butterflies I'd seen and they asked me a question. Well today in post 474 I'm going to sort of answer it and in future years I hope to be able to answer it better.

Orange Tip

So what was the question? It was... had I seen more or less butterflies this year. It's tricky to answer as I have seen some more species this year as I've been out deliberately looking for a few new species. I think I've seen four new species this year, but at the same time I have not seen three of the species that I've seen other years. The new species were the Large Skipper, Duke of Burgundy, Greyling and Silver Washed Fritillary, the ones I didn't manage to see were Holly Blue, Marbled White and Swallow Tail.

Green Veined White

The other reason it's hard to answer is because I haven't started keeping very good records of what I've seen and when yet. It seems like I've seen a lot less in my garden at the start of the year, it got better at the end of summer but it has gone quiet again now. I've definitely seen less Painted Ladies this year and less Peacocks. So I need to record what I see better so that I can answer properly. I do do the Butterfly Count but I'm going to keep more records. 

A challenging Comma

I'm still hoping to see a few more in the garden yet this year, the Michaelmas Daises are still out and I've got lots of fallen apples so there's still lots of food for them. Fingers crossed for a few still sunny days when I'm at home. It's something simple we can all do to help butterflies and many insects, grow a few nectar rich plants that they like. In our garden we have three Buddleia bushes that they especially like but quite a few other plants too that they like.

So what have I seen this year? Well let's start with a rare beauty, The Duke of Burgundy. I was told about this butterfly a little while ago by two different people and that there was a spot near me to find it. (Thanks Dave Renwick & Whitfield Benson). I didn't know at the time until I looked it up again that it is one of the UK's rarest butterflies. So this year I set off to see it and happily I did! I'll be back next year I think as it was a lovely walk out on the North York Moors to find this spot.

Swallowtail Caterpillar - amazing!

One I always try to see but I often miss because I go to Norfolk just at the wrong time of year (school needs to break up earlier for summer!) is the Swallowtail. I have had the odd fleeting view of this magnificent butterfly but never well enough or long enough to get a photo of one. Their larvae I see more often though and they are very pretty as well. Here's a beauty I saw this summer.

Silver washed Fritillary - a little worn

I like looking out for new places and new species so when we were on our Norfolk holiday this year we went to Holt Country Park. I've been to the market town of Holt a lot, and this year rescued a baby hedgehog from the churchyard while Mum was shopping. Afterwards we popped to the park and saw an amazing list of butterflies that had been seen. One that was meant to be in abundance was the Silver Washed Fritillary. I managed to see one but it wasn't in the best condition.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth
I also saw a lovely Brimstone there and a wonderful Hummingbird Hawkmoth. I know it's not a butterfly but I love seeing them. I get them in my garden too - this year I only got a quick glimpse of one on the red Valerian outside of the house so it was great to get this shot of one at Holt.

Large Skipper
A lovely little butterfly I saw, and have probably seen before but never really stopped to photograph or appreciate is the Large Skipper. This is one that hangs around a forest I go to quite often on the fringe of the North York Moors, Silton Forest. I'm not sure what made me pay attention to this one but perhaps it was because it sat still for me!

On the same bit of path in Silton Forest I've also been able to see some lovely Common Blue butterflies too this year. Males and females both sat nicely enough for a photo.
Common Blue

Well, there's a lot more to mention, like Speckled Wood, Painted Lady, Peacock, Red Admiral, Tortishell, a brief view of a White Admiral, Small White, Large White, Green Veined White, Orange Tip, Wall, Meadow Brown, Small Heath and Ringlet. I think that's probably all that I've seen this year.

There's still quite a few species I've yet to see so I'll be looking up where and when I can see something new next year. It's always such a buzz to see a new species and especially with something as beautiful as a butterfly!

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. A great post Zach, and a really interesting and important question from Butterfly Conservation too. Next summer I'm hoping to get out and get involved in the butterfly count as I missed it this year, as I'd love to see how I can compare what I spot each year. Beautiful photos as well. Hope school is going well too! - Tasha

    1. Thanks Tasha, schools good too thanks. Will be finding something to do better butterfly recording with :-)